The Economist and Launchpad

Economist logoThe online team at The Economist recently set up a Launchpad project, using a commercial subscription. I asked Mark Theunissen, from The Economist Group, about their plans.

Mark: We’re migrating the existing stack from Coldfusion/Oracle to a LAMP stack running Drupal. At present, we’re about half way through — if you visit a blogs page, channel page, or comments page they will be served from Drupal, but the home page and actual articles are still served from Coldfusion. There’s a migration and syncronisation process happening in the background between Oracle and MySQL.

Matthew: Is much of your web infrastructure based on open source software? If so, what?

Mark: Our new stack sure is! 🙂 We run almost all open source, in fact I can’t think of anything that isn’t.

  • Redhat Linux servers throughout (not Ubuntu, unfortunately).
  • MySQL enterprise database.
  • PHP 5.
  • Varnish HTTP accelerator.
  • Drupal content management system. Actually, a distribution called Pressflow.
  • Memcached for caching.
  • BCFG2 for configuration management.
  • The Grinder for load testing.

Matthew: Do you customise much of that?

Mark: We do, yes. We’ve sponsored or contributed patches that have mostly been for Drupal but also made their way into Varnish & BCFG2. We use Pressflow, and our changes go there first and often get back ported into core Drupal. Our policy is to open source as much as humanly possible!

Matthew: And, of course, I’d love to know what made The Economist choose Launchpad.

Mark: We chose Launchpad for its usability, mostly the workflow around reviewing code (merge proposals). It provides excellent tools for managing distributed teams, and we are a very large distributed team, with three locations where development is occurring on either side of the Atlantic.

The integration with Bazaar is great, and we are going to consider moving our bug tracker to Launchpad too at some time in the future.

Matthew: Thanks Mark!

4 Responses to “The Economist and Launchpad”

  1. Flimm Says:

    Very interesting to see. (The grammar Nazi in me points out that “chose” should be replaced with “choose” in the last question.)

  2. Matthew Revell Says:

    Thanks Flimm, fixed!

  3. Lloyd Budd Says:

    The article is a very good read.

    Can you expand on what sort of code is not humanly possible to open source?

  4. Mark Says:

    For example, we don’t bother open sourcing the proxy code that interfaces with the old Coldfusion based CMS, as it’s of no use to anyone else.

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